Kris Paulsen Co-Edits Media N

29 Mar, 2023

Kris Paulsen Co-Edits Media N

With Brian Michael Murphy, alum Kris Paulsen has co-edited a special issue of Media N on Afterlives of Data.

From the introduction:

What is a digital afterlife? Several recent television shows and novels have imagined near futures whenone can live forever in a virtual Elysium after physical death. A 2016 episode of BlackMirror, “San Junipero” (directed by Owen Harris), prototypes a metaverse afterlife in which the deceased, digitized and uploaded, inhabit simulations of their favorite decades, surrounded by other data-ghosts as well as those preparing to fully cross over. The episode ends on an upnote, with the protagonists coming toterms with mortality by joyously realizing they never have to die. Only the final shot delivers a dystopian glimpse of the infrastructure needed to sustain this computational heaven: an army of autonomous robotic arms tend the blinking lights of a dark and cavernous server farm. Heaven, now an archive-cum-videogame, precariously relies on fallible equipment and corporate stewardship. Neal Stephenson’s epic 2019 novel, Fall; or,Dodge in Hell, on the other hand, makes the environmental and infrastructural costs, as well as the existential threats, of such an afterworld central: once whole brain emulation is perfected, the entire global economy reorients toward the industry. No one saves for retirement or even lives in the now; all energy and affect belong henceforth to the great hereafter. Amazon’s series The Upload(2020–) transforms these weighty concerns into a comedic farce, in which it is no longer clear who is alive and who is dead. Eternity comes at a steep hourly data rate and living forever is just a means of continuing to spend and consume.

Read the full introduction here and check out the amazing issue here!